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As the U.S. Africa Command surgeon, I felt compelled to respond to the Nov. 21 article “U.S. Army shelves anti-malarial drug.” Protecting Africa Command personnel from the deadly form of malaria (P. falciparum) present in Africa is one of my priorities. The alarming language in this article, including the headline and bolded quote (“It’s like you scream into a hurricane until you are hoarse. We knew we were right,” spoken by retired Navy Cmdr. Bill Manofsky, a persistent critic of mefloquine), already has misled some personnel to conclude either that mefloquine is dangerous for all or that no safe anti-malarial is available. Neither is true.

Use of anti-malarial medications is critical as a last line of defense when other health protection measures fail to prevent bites from infected mosquitoes. Unfortunately, due to ever-changing resistance of the parasite, only three medications are currently effective in Africa: doxycycline, Malarone and mefloquine. All three medications are still appropriately available for use in the Department of Defense, and none has been “shelved.” Each medication has certain risks and benefits, which is why a medical provider decides which medication is appropriate for a particular patient after reviewing the medical history and considering the location of travel.

Mefloquine is still an important option, though no longer the first choice for travelers to Africa. All military services support this position.

It is true that patients must be carefully screened before prescribing, to limit risk of side effects, and mefloquine is not a dangerous drug if prescribed appropriately for select patients. Patients presently doing well on mefloquine should not stop treatment based on concerns raised by this one-sided article … especially given the risk of developing malaria.

It is unfortunate that some who quickly scanned this article were also misled to believe that all anti-malarial drugs are being “shelved” by the U.S. Army. Although it is regrettable that a patient would have a negative response to any medication, it is important for all to understand that malaria in Africa has resulted in deaths of U.S. personnel, and we are committed to preventing this from occurring again.

Antimalarial medications, to include mefloquine, are one critical piece of a force health protection program that needs to be understood and strictly implemented by all travelers to Africa to ensure a safe, healthy return home.

Dr. (Col.) Robert Miller

Stuttgart, Germany

Retirees not to blame

Regarding the Nov. 29 article “Tricare looking to fix dysfunctional system for retired vets in Philippines”: This is another example where veterans and retirees are treated as second-class based solely on where we have chosen to live when it comes to benefits — whether it is Tricare, the Department of Veterans Affairs or Social Security.

There should be no problem being treated fairly by taxing agencies, regardless of where we reside. We took our place on the line as our families endured the sacrifices of our service to protect our way of life, only to have a basic right of choice limited by where we live. Where are Tricare Prime and full benefits for our family members from the VA?

First Sgt. Donald W. Melendy (retired)

Philippines

Media, ignore Occupy crowd

I have been reading Stars and Stripes on and off for the past six years and it seems to me that in every issue there is something so stupid that I am awestruck.

For starters, all the articles about Pakistan. Obviously it is a terrorist-friendly country and yet the broke U.S. government continues to send Pakistan millions of dollars in military and economic aid.

Second is the articles about all these Occupy Wall Street protesters (more like lazy punks to me). They cry about corporate greed, but aren’t they being greedy by not working and not paying taxes? Hell yeah, they are. They should stop protesting and get jobs. There are lots of jobs out there but American society has become so lazy and entitlement-happy the jobs that are out there are beneath them? Get real.

I’m tired of my tax dollars going to support chronically unemployed miscreants. So maybe Stars and Stripes and all the other media outlets should stop printing articles about OWS protesters.

Sgt. Justin Rogers

Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan

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